Quotes from Billy Strayhorn and Thad Jones

I found these on one of my hard drives today. Not sure of the source, but the words are pure gold:

Billy Strayhorn – 1962

” I have a general rule about arranging. Rimsky-Korsakov is the one who said it: All parts should lie easily under the fingers. That’s my first rule: to write something a guy can play. Otherwise, it will never be as natural, or as wonderful, as something that does lie easily under the fingers.

Duke and I approach everything for what It ls. You have the instruments. You have to find the right thing · not too little, not too much. It’s like getting the right color. That’s it! Color Is what it Is, and you know when you get It.”

Thad Jones – 1977

“I have never formally studied arranging. The things that I have written I have acquired through experience, but talent is not all. You have to work at it. Having somebody like Ellington as a guideline certainly didn’t hurt. Unconsciously, I guess, I have patterned myself after him, but at the same time I know I must express certain thlngs for myself. That is the area I try to focus my attention on, trying to bring out the best that’s in me.

I spent a lot of time listening to European music as well as jazz. I study music of European composers, their technique and their creativity. It gives me a flow and balance, effect, harmonics, a sense of the dramatic. Now when I sit down to write a composition, I have an idea of the form the piece will take. I believe that when you write something that you should write fully wherever the line takes you. “